Chapter 7 - Some Explanations
The story of how Ana Aslan's GH3 came to be officially tested in the U.S. in spite of the 1960-63 negative reports from England and America is a saga of many persons efforts, genius, shrewdness, perspicacity—and the fact that GH3 really works. In addition to all the favorable studies from Europe (and as we have seen, from the United States as well), reports from all the patients who had been treated in Romanian clinics could not fail to have their effect—regardless of the official U.S. medical position.
As the years went by and the news of GH3 treatment spread throughout the world, more and more people came to the Aslan Clinic in Bucharest and departed with good news. Their ailments were healed or greatly benefited, and most did not hesitate to proclaim it to anyone who would listen. And quite a few listened, including some well-known doctors in many countries. (As of 1975, at least 100,000 patients have been treated in Romania alone, and twice that number in other countries.)
We interviewed some of these patients who undertook the trek to Bucharest. They found it most rewarding and surprisingly inexpensive Everyone from movie stars to belly dancers to staid executives to housewives—all were helped, and not only knew it themselves, but could prove it to their friends and even their doctors. The examinations were scientific, and covered every phase of scientific testing known to medicine.
But while the number of persons benefited by GH3 steadily mounted, thereby exerting pressure throughout the world—even in the United States, still in the grip of the most tyrannical medical bureaucracy known to man in the Western world—there were other, even more powerful forces gathering for the inevitable confrontation which would be enacted in the U.S. Some knew nothing of the pivotal crises ahead; others were dimly aware; still others, knowing, began to organize and to move with incredible speed and organization.
One of these latter was Dr. Alfred Sapse of UCLA, a renowned ophthalmologist who had garnered a cluster of awards for his original work in proving the role of antibodies in tears; now he was working on one of his many grants from the U.S. Institutes of Health. More than a famous researcher, he was the young M.D. resident mentioned earlier who had seen Dr. Aslan's work among the elderly. In a village in Romania where he was sent for the last year of his residenceship, he saw the old people come to life again within a year or two.
"It was so amazing," he told me many years later, "to see these old people given up to die and then being treated with GH3—and then being, well, entirely changed. They were now happy, eager to participate in the life around them, able to work and mean something to themselves and others. Their ailments were either gone or greatly regressed—at least to the point where they didn t bother these old people. I saw these people before and after treatment—and I know what I saw, but it was incredible to me. I never forgot it."
Many years later, after a successful career as a clinician and researcher, he wondered again at what he had seen back in Romania. And this time he proved to be the key figure in setting up GH3 testing in the United States.
Meanwhile, across the world, other persons were playing leading roles in the GH3 drama, though at the time none was aware of his role or that a drama for mankind existed.
Dr. D. S. Robinson at the University of Vermont and his confreres, both in the United States and England, working in collaboration with several teams of American researchers including the National Institute of Mental Health, had come up with a definitive answer about why we get old and depressed at roughly the same time. It's a gradual degenerative action, but the process is definitely physiological, not psychological. The various teams had autopsied the brains and other organs of many persons in an attempt to unravel the mystery of aging and depression. They found that an enzyme, monoamine oxidase (MAO), begins to build up in the brain around 45, and somehow takes precedence over. other vital substances by displacing them. One of these is norepinephrine (noradrenaline), a hormone essential to our well-being and vitality.
They found that aging (real aging, that is) begins around the period of MAO ascendance and coincides with depression. It had long been known that suppression of MAO with certain drugs could cure depression and ameliorate the symptoms of aging. Some may remember the amazement and joy among the medical men when isopromiazid, the first of these drugs, was administered to tuberculous patients around 1951.
Patients danced in the aisles of their wards, their depressions and TB seemingly cured. The world press had a field day, reporting that not only was tuberculosis cured, but so was depression.
Alas, this joy was short-lived, for it was later proved that isopromiazid produced deadly side effects on various organs, including the liver, and did not cure anything, except that it gave the patients a temporary euphoria. Other medications of the same type followed, but proved not much better because, as it turned out, they were irreversible inhibitors of MAO. Since MAO is necessary in certain quantities to protect the liver's functions, regulate blood pressure, and so on, a substance that destroys this--—or any other--vital enzyme permanently is dangerous to the well-being of the body, which must try to maintain its homeostasis: that dynamic equilibrium of the body we must maintain to survive among the wear, tear, and unimaginable stresses to which we are subjected every millisecond of our lives.
Drs. Robinson et al. studied blood plasma and platelets as well as the brain. Their findings, the first done on man, corroborated similar results found in animals: aging, in every species studied, is always accompanied by a rise in the activity of the MAO enzyme in the brain, blood, and other organs and a corresponding fall in noradrenaline.
Now, at last, the researchers had found a biological law of aging which was apparently universal: MAO rise and noradrenaline fall equals aging. Premature rise and fall equals premature aging; the individual ages "before his time."
Another link in the ever-growing web of evidence associating MAO rise with aging, depression and old-age diseases is that, as many studies other than Robinson, et al., have shown that aging is almost always accompanied by signs and symptoms of depression, even if these are not recognized as depression. Robinson was confirming in the laboratory (in vitro) what had been obvious (in vivo) for centuries. (See Bibliography.)
This does not rule out depression at earlier ages. Everyone who has lived on earth for even a short while knows that the human being suffers depressions intermittently. Even the reputed son of God and Man, crucified at age 33, must have been infinitely depressed when he cried out, "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Its causes are many and there is much controversy about treating it, but depression--—whether caused by external circumstances such as loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or internal, such as feeling inadequate, unable to cope with the world--—is universal. We would't be human if we weren t depressed at times. But depression is usually treatable by the right treatment.
Robinson s definitive work pinned down the aging type of depression as being not only universal, but due to physiological causes. All very well, but what practical value does the finding have? Previously tried MAO-inhibitors had relieved depression as well as the signs and symptoms of aging but were too dangerous, too productive of side effects, to be widely used, because they knocked out MAO permanently. The search was on for an MAO-inhibitor that would have no side effects, so it could actually benefit body and mind. The quest led straight to the substance whose use Ana Aslan had been advocating for 25 years. (It was not Ana who found the main reason why GH3 worked; it was an effort unsurpassed in medicine by the scope of its investigations, its experiments in the laboratory, and in clinical experiments. It is supremely ironic that this should be the work of American researchers, who have made an undeniable success of their efforts to establish the worth (or non-worth] of GH3 as an antidepressant in the lab and in treatment of human beings. It was in America, where GH3 was "finally killed"—according to the AMA—that GH3 would succeed.)